Unforgettable Ghost Festival: Journey into Vietnam’s Enigmatic Realm

Embark on an unforgettable journey into Vietnam’s enigmatic realm as we explore the Hungry Ghost Festival. Celebrated during the seventh lunar month, this significant cultural and spiritual event is a poignant tribute to the souls of the departed. Through a myriad of rites and practices, including food and money offerings, the Vietnamese people honor their ancestors and connect with their spiritual beliefs.

At the heart of Vietnamese culture and identity, the Hungry Ghost Festival fosters a deep sense of connection as ancestral remembrance intertwines with cherished traditions and captivating stories. Join us as we delve into the rich history, explore the vibrant traditions, and unravel the profound cultural significance of the Hungry Ghost Festival in Vietnam.

See more: Top 5 Vietnam festivals will bring you unforgettable memories.

Understanding the Unique Traditions and Controversies of Vietnam’s Ghost Festival

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, is an important festival in Vietnamese culture during the seventh lunar month. The festival is based on ancient Chinese beliefs about the afterlife and is celebrated in Vietnam through various ceremonies and customs.

People in Vietnam make offerings to the spirits of their ancestors at the Ghost Festival. These offerings often include incense, food, and other goods thought to nourish and appease the spirits. During the event, many families in Vietnam meet to share food, tales, and customs, strengthening their relationships and stressing the value of community and togetherness in Vietnamese culture.

Source: Internet

Another prominent habit related to the Ghost Festival is ancestor worship. This entails paying homage to one’s ancestors, requesting their guidance and blessings, and displaying photographs of them. The festival allows individuals to remember their ancestors, connect with their spiritual beliefs, and enhance family bonds.

The Ghost Festival is an important part of Vietnamese culture and identity, providing a time for people to come together, celebrate their shared heritage and traditions, and honor the spirits of their ancestors. Its significance lies in its ability to reinforce the importance of community, family, and spiritual beliefs, which are all deeply ingrained in Vietnamese culture.

One unique aspect of the Ghost Festival in Vietnam is a practice known as “giựt cô hồn,” which involves stealing offerings that have been left out for the spirits of ancestors. Young people typically carry out this activity, which is a way to have fun and challenge themselves during the festival.

Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday in Vietnam with a variety of festive activities, including parades, lion dances, and cultural performances.

giut co hon
Source: Internet

To practice “giựt cô hồn,” people will sneak up on offerings left out for the spirits and quickly grab them before running away. The activity is often carried out in groups, and participants will try to steal as many offerings as possible without being caught by the owners or other participants.

While “giựt cô hồn” is a common activity during the Ghost Festival in Vietnam, it is not universally supported. Some people feel that it is disrespectful to the spirits of ancestors and that it goes against the festival’s spirit. Others feel it is a harmless and fun activity that is part of the festival’s traditions.

The meaning behind “giựt cô hồn” is complex and may vary depending on who you ask. For some, it is a way to challenge oneself and have fun during the festival. For others, it may be seen as a way to test one’s luck or bravery. Some may also view it as a way to show respect to the spirits of ancestors by proving that they can still defend their offerings.

A Blend of Ancient Chinese Beliefs, Indigenous Customs, and Buddhist Traditions

In Vietnam, the Ghost Festival has a rich tradition dating back centuries. Its roots can be traced back to ancient Chinese ideas about the afterlife, which Chinese immigrants and traders brought to Vietnam.

According to these beliefs, during the seventh month of the lunar calendar, the souls of the deceased are released from the underworld and walk the earth in quest of food and sacrifices. The celebration satisfies these hungry ghosts and keeps them from causing misfortune or harm to the living.

The Ghost Festival in Vietnam has evolved and taken on its distinct character and traditions. It has been influenced by different cultures and traditions, particularly indigenous Vietnamese beliefs and customs. An example of this is the practice of ancestor worship, which is important to Vietnam’s Ghost Festival. This tradition is rooted in Vietnamese culture and is a method for individuals to revere and seek the guidance and blessings of their ancestors.

Buddhism, which is a major religion in Vietnam, has also had an impact on the Ghost Festival. Buddhist teachings and practices are frequently infused into the celebration, and many of the festival’s rites and customs have a Buddhist influence. The Ghost Festival has evolved and adapted to changing times and circumstances recently. It is still a vital aspect of Vietnamese culture and identity, celebrated with varied rites and customs throughout the country.

Vietnamese Women’s Day is a special occasion celebrated on October 20th each year to honor and appreciate the contributions of women in Vietnamese society.

buddhism ghost festival
People often go to the pagoda on the 15th day of the lunar month – Source: Internet

Overall, the Ghost Festival has a long history and diverse influences that have shaped its character and traditions over time. While the festival’s origins may be traced back to ancient Chinese ideas about the afterlife, it has taken on a mainly Vietnamese flavor. A range of cultures and traditions has inspired it.

The Significance of the Ghost Festival In Vietnam

The Vietnamese place a high value on the Ghost Festival, reflecting their values, beliefs, and cultural identity. The Ghost Festival is primarily a time to respect and remember the spirits of ancestors. It allows people to reconnect with their spiritual beliefs and seek the guidance and blessings of their ancestors. As a result, the event contributes to the importance of family, community, and traditional values in Vietnamese culture.

There will also be the Vu Lan festival in the lunar month of July, and people often release floating lanterns on this day.

vu lan festival
Source: Internet

The Ghost Festival is also a time for people to gather and share their customs and stories. It is a time to celebrate Vietnamese culture and identity and strengthen the crucial sense of community and togetherness in Vietnamese society.

The Ghost Festival reflects the Vietnamese people’s values and beliefs through its rituals and customs. It emphasizes ancestor worship, elder reverence, and the relevance of family and community in daily life. It also represents the Vietnamese people’s spiritual views, such as their belief in the afterlife and the necessity of interacting with the spiritual realm.

The Ghost Festival has aided in the reinforcement of traditional values and beliefs, as well as the promotion of a sense of community and solidarity among the Vietnamese people. The celebration is a vital aspect of Vietnamese culture and identity, and it will be honored and treasured by people all around the country for years to come.

Lanterns in Vietnam, embodying a vibrant tapestry of light and symbolizing hope, prosperity, and spiritual illumination.


In conclusion, the Ghost Festival is an essential event in Vietnamese culture that symbolizes the Vietnamese people’s values and beliefs. It is a time to remember ancestors’ spirits, reconnect with spiritual beliefs, and celebrate Vietnamese culture and identity. The celebration has significantly impacted Vietnamese culture and serves as a reminder of the value of community, family, and traditional values.

We encourage readers to learn more about the Ghost Festival and its customs and take part in the festivities if feasible. By doing so, we can get a tremendous respect for Vietnamese culture and meaningfully honor the spirits of ancestors.